It's been a while, and I can't remember everything I've read during this time. I know there was a bunch of Ann Rule, which was enjoyable but not overly noteworthy. I read some Ngaio Marsh (probably Dead water and Death at the Dolphin). There's probably something else I'm forgetting, but there were also these four:
On second thought: outsmarting your mind's hard-wired habits -- Wray Herbert (non-fiction)
Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior -- Leonard Mlodinow (non-fiction)
The disciple of Las Vegas -- Ian Hamilton
The day of the Jackal -- Frederick Forsyth
The way the brain works is devious and fascinating. Both On second thought and Subliminal look at human behaviour through the lens of neuroscience (which is increasingly being called "brain science" for reasons of simplicity). On second thought looks at thought patterns and heuristics: mental shortcuts your mind takes to make decisions, rather than weighing all the options every time. (If it did, every time you went to buy yogurt, it would take you an hour to decide which container to pick off the shelf.) Heuristics are instinctive, and mostly they serve us well, but sometimes they mislead, sometimes they handicap, and sometimes they're downright dangerous. It was an interesting read. Subliminal covers some of the same ground, but in a different way. It, too, talks about gut reactions, but from the perspective of the unconscious mind, the vast majority of data-processing that happens without your knowledge. That's what enables you to pick up on social cues or predisposes you to buy French wine when French music is playing on the store's sound system. It's also what enables a patient whose visual-interpretation part of the brain is nonfunctional, making him blind, be able to successfully navigate a hallway filled with obstacles without any assistance whatsoever, because another, unconscious, part of the brain is still active and using the data his conscious mind cannot. There was a lot of interesting material in here, and Mlodinow is a remarkably entertaining writer. I plan on finding more of his books another time.
Ava Lee is still assessing her wounds from her last complicated debt-collection assignment when she is launched on another one, and this promises to be even messier. In The disciple of Las Vegas, Ava's business partner in Hong Kong, known respectfully as Uncle, is called on to recover $50 million from a land swindle in BC. Ava follows the money from Canada to San Francisco to Costa Rica to Las Vegas, harassed by her powerful and menacing employers for immediate results all the way along. To make things more complicated, an old enemy of Ava's has come into enough money to contract a hitman on Ava... This is the second Ava Lee, and it's as enjoyable as the first. Ava is skilled in lethal levels of martial arts, and she's wealthy and attractive, but she is still human, making mistakes and struggling to recover from them.
I re-read The day of the Jackal on Sunday backstage at the Back 40. I wasn't planning to, but it was there, and I read the first few pages... and then I was hooked. French President Charles de Gaulle has enemies, people who want to see him dead. When their most recent assassination attempt fails, the top three leaders of the movement hire an outsider, a paid killer, to do the job for him. His code name: the Jackal. The first part of the book follows the Jackal as he makes preparations. The second follows the policeman who must find him and stop him. The third part cuts between the two storylines as the moment chosen for the kill comes ever closer. This setup has an odd effect: by the time the first part (Anatomy of a Plot) has finished, you've spent so much time with the Jackal and the resistance movement that you feel a certain appalled liking for the Jackal, and you're almost rooting for him. Then in Anatomy of a Manhunt, you meet Commissaire Lebel, the policeman heading the manhunt, and after a little while, you start cheering for him, too. The ending, when it comes, is everything you would want. It's been made into a movie twice (1973 and 1997), and both are good, although the 1997 version has been updated and is considerably more violent. One note as far as the book goes: it's mostly reserved and proper, almost scholarly, but it can occasionally be crude.